8/15/2017
“Loving Us” Pow Wow Encourages Recovery
“I lost my granddaughter to heroin addiction,” Anita told me. “We’ve lost so many people,” Tena added.
8/9/2017
Conversations at the County Fairs
I love county fairs. I love the sights, sounds, smells and the tastes of the fair. Moreover, I love all the people. Adorable little kids wander around with snow cones. Grandparents catch up on family news. Hardworking 4-Hers show cattle, cakes and cookies.
8/1/2017
Foxconn: The Hype and the Small Print
...as Paul Harvey used to say, “Here’s the Rest of the Story.”
7/25/2017
Health Care: Steps Toward the Future
An older man contacted me recently with a problem. A visit to the doctor left him with thousands in unpaid bills. Medicare deemed the tests “routine” and not a “medical necessity.” But the gentleman was told, for his occupation, the tests were absolutely necessary.
7/19/2017
Talk Is All Health Care at the Art Fair
“My father-in-law is losing his health insurance,” Pam told me. She stopped to chat as we perused the booths at the Stockholm Art Fair.
7/11/2017
Seeking Solutions for State Road Budget
A tall man stopped me in the hall of the Capitol. “Can’t you just increase the gas tax?” he asked me. “I’m here to ask my Republican Senator to increase the gas tax. We need to fix the roads.”
7/5/2017
Proposal Helps Veterans Become Farmers
“As far back as WWI connecting soldiers with nature and farming has been used to treat the invisible wounds of war,” Mr. Brian Sales recently told members of the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism Committee.
6/26/2017
Card Skimmer Bill Aimed at Stopping Gas Pump Scam
“Be careful when you fill up,” Linda warned me a few months ago. “There’s a new scam that captures your credit card information when you pay for your gas at the pump.”
6/19/2017
Celebrating Wisconsin’s Dairyland
June is dairy month. A time to celebrate all we love about ‘America’s Dairyland’ – home to 1.28 million dairy cows, which is more than one cow for every five Wisconsinites.
6/13/2017
Will Wisconsin’s Future Children Receive an Equal Education?
Openly, legislative leaders point to a lack of agreement on public education. They say no progress can happen until they round up necessary votes for the education portion of the budget. Privately, some GOP lawmakers are also angling to spend money on a big change to business personal property taxes. However, changes to taxes could take away money promised to schools.
6/7/2017
What Choices Would You Make?
In the next few weeks, state lawmakers are voting on how Wisconsin spends money over the next two years. The choices legislators make will affect our communities and our lives.
5/26/2017
Is There a “Good” Tax?
“Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society,” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said ninety years ago.
5/24/2017
AUDIT: WEDC Cannot Be Certain of Any Jobs Created or Retained
Our state spends a great deal of money on economic development. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is responsible for overseeing much of the taxpayer money that goes to job creation.
5/9/2017
“REINS Act” – New Power for Leaders to Stop Public Protections
“This is the broadest, most dangerous bill you’ve never heard of.” I told my colleagues during a recent Senate debate. “It’s an obscure way to shut down government from doing something that the Legislature intended to do.”
5/3/2017
Youth in Government Day Engages Teens
“Imagine you could make the laws. What would you change about how things are run?” My question to the students spurred a long discussion about change in our world.
4/26/2017
High Capacity Well Proposal Makes Water Problems Worse
What if you woke up one morning turned on the faucet to wash your face and saw brown water coming out of your tap?
4/19/2017
State Budget: Start with What’s Real
When it comes to paying the bills you’ve got to deal with what’s real. You can’t spend rhetoric.
4/11/2017
Meth Addiction: the Growing Epidemic in our Neighborhood
“We are up to our gills in meth,” the county worker told me. “Four years ago one quarter of our child-protection cases were related to meth. Now, 92% of these cases are related to meth.”
4/4/2017
Protect the Constitution from a Convention
What do the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union and the John Birch Society have in common? They all think legislation calling for a federal constitutional convention is a bad idea. A very bad idea.
3/29/2017
Healthcare: What’s Next?
“Obamacare is the law of the land,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told the nation. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
3/21/2017
Are Waters in Wisconsin Meeting Water Quality Standards?
“The bottom line is: Are waters meeting water quality standards?” George Meyer told the Audit Committee at a recent hearing.
3/13/2017
Broadband Expansion: Rural Wisconsin Needs the Real Deal
According to the federal government’s most recent information, Wisconsin ranks last in the Midwest in both rural and urban broadband access with only 44% of rural folks accessing download speeds of 25 Mbps.
3/8/2017
Don’t Get Rid of the Treasurer
A resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the role of state treasurer is likely to be finalized by the time you read this column. I will be voting “no” on the proposal to eliminate the office of state of treasurer and here’s why.
3/1/2017
Audit Hearing Highlights Problems and Way Forward with Transportation
“Deputies are trying to figure out what caused a bridge on a rural road west of Arcadia to collapse.” The WEAU-TV story broke the same morning as a recent Legislative Audit Committee hearing on the State Highways Program.
2/21/2017
Searching for the “Reform Dividend”
What is the “Reform Dividend” the Governor spoke about in his budget address? Where is it? How much is it? An inquiring mind wanted to know.
2/14/2017
A Few Budget Details that Didn’t Make Headlines
Governor Walker recently released his two-year state budget. Amid much fanfare, he touted providing much needed money for schools, roads, and the UW. I went digging through budget documents released by the Governor. I knew there was more to the story.
2/8/2017
School Funding: It’s about More than Money
“Public education in Wisconsin should provide high quality learning for ALL children no matter who they are or where they live,” Eau Claire School Board President Chris Hambuch-Boyle recently told me.
1/30/2017
Who Has Been Watching Spending at DOT?
“Let me see how much you spent,” my mother said when I returned from the store. As the oldest of five children, I was often sent to the store to buy groceries. When I returned home, my mother checked the grocery bag, the receipt and counted the change.
1/24/2017
Audits Raise Cautions about Pension Fund Management
“GOOD NEWS” read the text with a short article about how our pension funds grew 8.5%. My friend forwarded the article with a cryptic note, “apparently the lies keep working.”
1/18/2017
School Visit to the “ARCTIC Zone” Prompts Thinking Anew about Education
Two six-graders recently showed me around their classrooms. Desks were not in straight rows. Students were not waiting their turn with raised hands. I looked around the room. There actually were no desks at all, but tables and different types of chairs.
1/11/2017
New DNR Report: Who Should Pay to Protect and Encourage Fish and Wildlife?
Wisconsin is number one in hunting! Don’t take it from me. The Department of Natural Resources has studies to back it up.
1/4/2017
What it is Like to be a New Legislator
“Good morning, Senator,” said a Capitol staffer. It took me a moment to realize the man was talking to me. That was ten years ago.